The lower end of Merthyr Tydfil High Street at Gilar Street was redeveloped in 2013 as an events space framing both St Tydfil’s Church and the Robert and Lucy Thomas Memorial Fountain.
It was renamed Llys Janice Rowlands Square in commemoration and celebration of the support and commitment Janice Rowlands made to the communities of Merthyr Tydfil. Lady Rowlands, wife of former Merthyr Tydfil County Borough MP Lord Edward Rowlands CBE (Ted), was a passionate advocate for community organisations across the borough.
The Fountain was a gift to the people of Merthyr Tydfil from Lord Merthyr Sir WT Lewis in 1906, and was dedicated to the ‘Captains Of Industry’ - including his grandparents Robert and Lucy Thomas, pioneers of the South Wales steam coal trade.
Elaborately wrought in iron with fantastic decorations, iron mugs on chains were originally present for the use of the thirsty passer-by.
St Tydfil’s, the Old Parish Church of Merthyr Tydfil, was built to keep sacred the spot at the lower end of the High Street where Tydfil was martyred because of her Christian beliefs. It is thought that some form of church has stood on this spot for nearly 1500 years. The present church, built in 1894, was designed by J L Pearson, who also designed Truro Cathedral.
This artwork is embedded in the floor and designed by Chris Butler and celebrates the ‘pioneers of the South Wales Steam Coal Trade’. It includes bollards and benches that use objects and items from nature and museum collections, reflecting the heritage of Merthyr Tydfil in a modern context.